January 22, 2008#

Windows Vista – A Fairy Tale Gone Bad

This is going to be a short post about my first year of experience with Windows Vista. Now I’m not gonna tell you that you should use Linux or Windows XP instead of Vista which is really really bad, as you can read on so many blogs and forums but I want to give an honest opinion on Vista’s look and feel and point out some things which are pretty odd and which I really can’t understand.

So first of all: I actually like Windows Vista. Built-in search, nice GUI and especially that extremely improved way of navigating folders in Windows Explorer are features I benefit from. Control over thumbnail sizes is another nice feature of Windows Explorer. The sidebar is ok, too, though one can clearly see that Microsoft didn’t spend too much time developing that one.

Now to the things I don’t like and often not even understand:

1) During the first few month of usage, I couldn’t plug-in any USB flash drive with more than 500 MB, as Vista would crash with a BSOD (blue screen of death) in result. Man! How did Microsoft achieve such a bug?!? I’m not talking about that very special time dilating warp plasma machine I’m trying to connect via USB… it’s a USB FLASH DRIVE. I’ve been really annoyed by that matter but couldn’t do much about it. Finally after few months living with it, some Microsoft fixed the bug and since then, I’m able to use my 2 GB flash drive again. :-)

2) Windows BackUp tool! It’s gotten a clearly improved GUI, I must admit that. But for the cost of features which are now missing. It’s no longer saving to some *.bkf file but to *.zip files each of which cannot be larger than 100 MB. So you end up with dozens of *.zip files in the end. But the most annoying thing is that it can no longer backup EFS encrypted files. They are just left out. There’s no longer any way to backup them in Windows Vista, besides doing it manually. But why?!? All you gotta do now to keep files from getting backed up is to set that ‘encryt file’ checkbox in Windows Explorer. Aren’t encrypted files important?!? Now I have that nice and easier to use BackUp tool (NT BackUp was clearly outdate) in Windows Vista, but it’s not worth a cent as I’m not even using it. I need ALL my file to be backed up not just some of them, so I have to use some other backup solution.

3) Same with Windows Disk Defragmentation. Now it’s got an easier to operate GUI but somehow Microsoft forgot to include some kind of program feature. The disk fragmentation visualization overview is gone, too. I can understand the latter one, as for sure, it has never been too accurate and more than a nice to watch animation but what about the progress indicator? Somewhere on the web, I have read that it’s been inaccurate, too. Well, be it so but at least you had some hint at all on how long defrag will take. Now you’re left with ‘disk defragmentation may take from few minutes to various hours’. What the h***!!! A SIMPLE PROGRESS BAR WOULD HAVE DONE THE JOB! How can having no idea at all on the duration be any better than an inaccurate prediction?

4) This one’s again about progress indicators. Now in the case of copying files. I thought the times of ’3772653665387752 minutes left’ predictions till copying files is done were gone since Windows XP. Windows 95, 98 and ME had this problem. Not that I really missed it in XP but now I guess, I should thank Windows Vista for reviving it!!!!!!

long copy

But besides that little bug Microsoft has tried hard to improve the file copy dialog. Now shows the transfer rate and waits and usually makes quite accurate predictions on the duration. But I don’t quite get how Microsoft does calculate it. Must be some numeric approximization of a really complex 5th order integral equation! Why? Because it usually takes 30 to 40 seconds, sometimes even longer till Vista gives you that number after starting to copy files. Till then you can read ‘Duration: calculating…’. This is annoying as many file transfers are even done by the time Windows has finished calculating the duration but it’s even worse for the fact, that after just a few seconds, Vista shows you a stable and accurate transfer rate in the copy dialog together with an also accurate size and number of files that are being copied. By that time, you or a eight year old child can calculate (just using your head, not even a calculator) the duration of the transfer within three to four seconds, sometimes even faster. This way, you have the result 30 to 40 seconds before Windows Vista does! That’s probably the worst thing at all in Windows Vista. Mostly because I just can’t understand, even after thinking about that really really hard, how and why Microsoft does that!

Anyone explain it to me? Please!

PS: Number 1) and 4) have been resolved by now. 1) by some Windows Update months ago, and 4) by Vista Service Pack 1 which has been available as a Release Candidate for a few weeks now.

February 28, 2007#

Date lines vs. US Air Force jets!

Yet another software bug story that will be told by some wanna-be-cool computer science professor to his students 20 years from now. Have a look at this! Apparently, some geek managed to make the new F-22 jet’s computer crash as it crosses the date line. Wondering why this makes me think of Ariane rockets and Mars orbiters?!